Power-Saving Strategies and New Notebooks: Page 3

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Power-Saving Strategies and New Notebooks

The main Pentium M models -- available in 1.3GHz, 1.4GHz, 1.5GHz, and 1.6GHz flavors -- are built to get more out of a laptop battery charge than any previous Intel mobile processor. And a low-voltage 1.1GHz Pentium M and ultra-low-voltage 900MHz Pentium M are built to last still longer.

The target for the standard CPU is power consumption under one watt during normal use (less than half that of the mobile Pentium 4), with overall thermal design power or maximum power dissipation of 24.5 watts for the 1.5GHz and 1.6GHz parts; 22 watts for the 1.3GHz and 1.4GHz; 12 watts for the low-voltage 1.1GHz; and just 7 watts for the ultra-low-voltage 900MHz chip. By contrast, the thermal design power of the 2.4GHz mobile Pentium 4 is 30 watts, while the desktop Pentium 4s range roughly from 50 to 80 watts.

In addition to a power-optimized system bus and L2 cache (with parts of the latter turned off when not needed), the Pentium M also introduces an enhanced version of Intel's SpeedStep voltage- and clock-speed-regulating technology more akin to the most recent versions of AMD's PowerNow or Transmeta's LongRun.

While the mobile Pentium 4 could only switch between two voltages and speed settings (typically full speed and 1.2GHz), each Pentium M can dynamically shift through three to six power/performance levels based on application demand -- in the case of the top model, 1.6GHz, 1.4GHz, 1.2GHz, 1.0GHz, 800MHz, and 600MHz (with core voltages ranging from 1.484V to 0.956V).

Sampling Centrino Systems

Hardware Central's Labs, Weather, & Sports Desk has several hands-on tests of Pentium M and Centrino (as well as Athlon XP-M) notebooks planned for the coming weeks, but today's news wires are buzzing with announcements of new portables using Intel's new silicon. Fujitsu's LifeBook S6000, for example, is a 4.4-pound slimline featuring the Pentium M/1.4 and 855GM chipset plus a 13.3-inch screen; it'll ship in April starting at $1,499.

Sony says its new Vaio PCG-Z1A ultralight is "slim, sexy, and unattached" (wireless, get it?). Actually, the 4.7-pound Z1A is slightly thicker than the Vaio 505 series that Sony's been selling for years, but its swoopy, silver-matte case is designed to appeal to exotic-sports-car drivers and boardroom status seekers. The 1.3GHz notebook starts at $2,200 with a 14.1-inch XGA screen; a model with a 1,400 by 1,050 =-pixel SXGA+ display, 512MB of DDR, and a 60GB hard disk is $2,400.

Dell's 5.3-pound, 1.2-inches-thick Inspiron 600m combines the 1.3GHz Pentium M and 855PM chipset with ATI's Mobility Radeon 9000 graphics accelerator and a 14.1-inch screen for $1,399. A model with a 1.6GHz processor, SXGA+ screen, and Dell's 802.11b/g PC Card is $1,549.

Dell's corporate customers can check out the Latitude D600 and D800, available with a new desktop docking stand that elevates the LCD to eye level to make an external monitor unnecessary. Prices for the 14.1-inch-screened D600 start at $1,399, and for the D800 with its 15.4-inch, wide-aspect-ratio display and Nvidia GeForce4 420 Go graphics at $1,699.

Toshiba, too, offers both consumer- and business-oriented Centrino portables: The Satellite Pro M10/15 series puts the accent on multimedia with a 15-inch screen, GeForce4 420 Go graphics, and Harman/Kardon stereo speakers (starting at $1,999), while the 5.7-pound Tecra M1 ($2,154) boasts more than six hours of battery life and just-over-6-pound, desktop-replacement Tecra S1 ($1,979) offers a 15-inch display, full-sized keyboard, and integrated WiFi and Bluetooth. Finally, Toshiba's new Portege R100 is an ultraportable 2.4 pounds and 0.6 inch thin; it comes with a 12-inch polysilicon display for $2,199.

HP says the Compaq Evo N620c delivers up to six hours of battery life in an under-5-pound, 14.1-inch-screened package; it starts at $1,799 with a Pentium M/1.4 processor, 40GB hard disk, and DVD drive, but isn't an official Centrino system as a later, HP-brand business notebook will be (the Evo has an integrated Gigabit Ethernet controller and optional 802.11b and Bluetooth). By contrast, Gateway's 6.2-pound 450X wears the Centrino label; it starts at $1,599 with a 15-inch SXGA+ screen and DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive, and you can choose any Pentium M speed from 1.3GHz to 1.6GHz.

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